WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Lady Blue Devils were up 1-0 after three innings in what was a pitcher’s duel until the Cranford Cougars’ bats came to life as they capitalized on Westfield’s mistakes and ultimately won 8-2 in both team’s first game of the season.

“I’m very happy with their performance,” Cranford head coach Heather Bormann said. “We have to learn from the mistakes that we did make, but I’m happy with the way they hit the ball. I’m happy with the way we pitched.”

The first rally got going in the top of the fourth with a runner on first when Cranford’s Taylor Reitzel hit a double after the ball was dropped in left field. Another double from Erin Schwerdtfeger drove in the first run of the game before Reitzel scored on a missed tag when caught in a rundown between home and third during the next at bat.

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“I think Cranford did a really good job of putting us on our heels,” Westfield head coach Caitlin MacDonald said. “We came out to a 1-0 lead and we were feeling pretty good, but then they started to put balls in play and started to make some things happen. Their pitcher really stepped up and shut us down a few times. We couldn’t really get anything going after the first inning; we were sort of playing defense even on offense.”

Up 4-1 in the fifth inning, Jillian Skalski and Reitzel both had RBI doubles to make the game 6-1. It was Reitzel again who came through again in the top of the 7th with a two run single to make the game 8-1, taking advantage of another catch dropped earlier in the inning.

“As a team, we’re not very happy with how we came out to play today,” senior Danielle Rinaldi said. “We played a very good first inning, came out and played good defense, started off strong batting, but left the bases loaded, which is always frustrating. But further in the game we let our mistakes take control of the game and they outplayed us. We look to come back stronger tomorrow and the rest of the week and hopefully eliminate those errors.”

Both pitchers went the full seven innings as Cranford’s Brenna Dolan picked up 10 strikeouts and Westfield junior Bridget Hyland picked up 8. Westfield’s offense was powered by sophomore Genevieve Howell, who had an RBI double, as well as Rinaldi and sophomore Julia Romano, who each had a single and a run scored with Romano additionally picking up an RBI.

“The credit goes to them,” MacDonald said. “They did a really good job of carrying the momentum of the game. We just have to fine tune a little bit of defense, a little bit of offense and come out ready to get them next time.”

Westfield (0-1) will take on Arthur L. Johnson (Clark) at home tomorrow at 4 p.m. Cranford (1-0) will play at the same time, on the road against Elizabeth.

Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.